David Michael Miller
Freakfest on State Street.
Halloween isn't just for spooking friends with a werewolf mask or showing some leg in a sexy spider outfit. It's about exploring sides of yourself that often stay under wraps, from an inner night owl thwarted by an 8-to-5 work schedule to an arty alter ego who digs cult cinema or daring dance productions.
Here are more than 25 events to aid this quest. For even more ideas, see The Week.
Shrieks and howls
Dane101 Freakin' Halloweekend
Geared toward children of the '80s and '90s, this event has local bands pay homage to hard-edged, radio-friendly rock. Friday features Me & My Friends (Red Hot Chili Peppers), the Hardest Part (Tom Petty), Dead & Bloated (Stone Temple Pilots), Me & My Old Lady (the Offspring), Boys on Film (Duran Duran) and Goo Muck (the Cramps). Saturday has performances by Dude Looks Like a Lady (Aerosmith), the Fat Bottomed Girls (Queen), Kurtplunk (Green Day), Rage Against the Halloween (Rage Against the Machine), the Party Drug (Morphine) and the Devil's Insides (INXS).
High Noon Saloon, Saturday, Oct. 26, 3:30 pm
The spirit of giving will visit this Literacy Network benefit, which features spine-tingling tunes from the Oak Street Ramblers and Brother Rye, plus storytelling and a costume parade. Donate a children's book in exchange for a ticket and a treat.
State Street, Saturday, Oct. 26, 7 pm
State Street is the heart of the party on Saturday night. Live rap and rock by acts such as Chiddy Bang, Matt & Kim, Watsky, Lucius and F.Stokes will rattle bones on the corners of Gilman Street, Frances Street and the Capitol Square. Revelers eager to dance should hit Neon Indian's DJ set on the Square and the fest's party at the Orpheum, which features 3LAU and Nom de Strip.
Brink Lounge Halloween Celebrations
Groove to Grateful Dead classics like "Friend of the Devil" at a Saturday-night costume party with the New Speedway Players, and return on Halloween night for Zombie Skapocalypse featuring Public Divide, Something to Do and 4 Aspirin Morning.
Mickey's Tavern, Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 pm
Sounds like the bar's jukebox has reanimated: Sludgy, bluesy punk will be in full effect for this cover-fest with Raygunomics (Naked Raygun), the Electric Larrys (Butthole Surfers) and Jack on Fire (Gun Club).
High Noon Saloon, Monday, Oct. 28, 6 pm
It's time to get weird: This may be the only time this year you can go to a metal show of this magnitude dressed as Katy Perry. For more on Dying Fetus, see Tour Stop.
Overture Center, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 7:30 pm
Lauper's signature shrieks, which pepper hits like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," are just part of this concert, in which she'll perform her whole 1983 debut, She's So Unusual. She was also one of the decade's fashion innovators, so look to her for off-the-wall costume ideas.
Barrymore Theatre, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 7:30 pm
"Lord, honey, you're a ghost" was Minnie Pearl's reaction when meeting Hank Williams III, the grandson of her country-musician friend Hank Williams Sr. See what type of apparition he sounds like nowadays.
High Noon Saloon, Thursday, Oct. 31, 9 pm
American Dead, the Moguls, the Help Desk and the Barroom Buddies treat the audience to ear candy by the Replacements, Lagwagon, Foo Fighters and more.
Majestic Theatre, Thursday, Oct. 31, 9 pm
Of Montreal have gone from neo-vaudeville to psychedelic twee to glammy funk and other imaginative sounds. Witness their latest transformation at this costume ball, which also features spooky surf rockers La Luz.
Barrymore Theatre, Friday, Nov. 1, 9 pm
The annual event stretches the Halloween festivities into November with fresh tributes to performers past. This year's roster includes the Mustache as James Brown, the Smokin' Bandits as Little Feat and the New Speedway Players as the Jerry Garcia Band.
Dead can dance
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Thursday (7:30 pm), Friday (8 pm) & Saturday (2 & 8 pm), Oct. 24-26
There isn't a much more intriguing combination than steampunk costumes and modern ballet. Madison Ballet's artistic director, W. Earle Smith, adapted Bram Stoker's vampire romance for the stage with a rock score and movements that range from athletic to erotic. This feast for the eyes should be even more lush and sensuous in its second run, given its proximity to Halloween rather than St. Patrick's Day. Bonus: Tickets to the Saturday-night show will get you into Freakfest, too.
Stoughton Opera House, Friday & Saturday, Oct 25 & 26, 7:30 pm
The vampire tale jumps to another stage in this original production featuring young talent from Stoughton. Now in its fifth year, this fusion of ballet and drama has been revamped, helping audiences see a new side of the infamous bloodsucker.
Inferno Halloween Celebrations
Let your freak flag fly at two nights of fetish-friendly shindigs. Pole dancing, hooping and crazy dancing are fair game at Friday night's party with DJ Teknicolor. Saturday is a circus-themed fete featuring a costume competition for $1,000 in prizes, plus DJ sets by WhiteRabbit, Eurotic and Psychotron.
Majestic Theatre, Saturday, Oct. 26, 9 pm
Bust out your Madonna-inspired cone bra or morph into Lydia from Beetlejuice: There's a battle on the dance floor, and an outlandish costume is one of your best weapons. DJs Nick Nice and Mike Carlson go back in time with music videos on the big screen. Costume contests begin at midnight, with prizes for the best representations of '80s or '90s music icons and TV or movie characters. Maybe you'll finally discover which decade you were meant for.
Cardinal Bar, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 9 pm
Whether you prefer Victorian-style corsets or futuristic bondage gear this party featuring DJs Brook and Siberia is the perfect place to flaunt your kinks.
Weary Traveler Free House, Thursday, Oct. 31, 10 pm
Come shake a leg -- yours or one a zombie lost -- with DJ Real Jaguar and friends while vying for best costume in the Willy Street bar and restaurant.
Olin Park, Oct. 24-26 & Oct. 31, 7 pm
Constructed by the West Madison Jaycees, this haunted hotel is sure to spook you into next year -- if you live to tell others about it. Victims of a long-ago tragedy wander the space for three hours, sharing their stories with the folks lost inside. A benefit for the Road Home, a local organization for families seeking shelter, this attraction will make you thankful for knowing your way home.
Bartell Theatre, Oct. 24 (7:30 pm), Oct. 25 (8 pm), Oct. 26 (4 pm & 8 pm), Oct. 31 (7:30 pm) and Nov. 1-2 (8 pm)
Get a taste of gothic theater as Strollers Theatre teams up with OUT!Cast Theatre on Stephen Mallatratt's horror play -- a long-running hit on London's West End. A solicitor sees a terrible apparition at a client's funeral, then searches for answers at a haunted house.
Dane County Humane Society, Friday & Saturday, Oct. 25 & 26, 7-10 pm
Looking for a creepy tale to tell at a Halloween party? Spin your own by hiking these ghoul-infested trails, then recover by petting adorable puppies and kittens. Kids younger than 12 can explore a less-scary version of the trails on Saturday from 4-6 pm.
4070 UW Vilas Hall, Friday, Oct. 25, 7 pm
In this early-'80s horror flick from Italy's Lucio Fulci, a hotel extracts the souls of its visitors. It's wildly colorful in terms of both storytelling and cinematography.
Overture Hall, Friday, Oct. 25, 8 pm
The star power of this Southern gothic musical is reason enough to head downtown this Friday. Written by Stephen King, with music by John Mellencamp and T-Bone Burnett, this chilling tale of lust, revenge and the supernatural features a live band.
Majestic Theatre, Saturday, Oct. 26, 7:30 pm
Sam Raimi's 1987 sequel to The Evil Dead is an addictive blend of horror and hilarity. A couple take a romantic trip to a woodland cabin, where one of them becomes possessed by demons and the other loses a hand, which he soon replaces with a chainsaw. If you like MacGyver-esque problem solving with a side of gore, this is a must-see.
Sundance Cinemas, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 7 pm
Don't let German dialogue scare you away from Werner Herzog's 1979 take on F.W. Murnau's iconic vampire movie. Thanks to stellar acting, luscious cinematography and English subtitles, you'll have no trouble shivering your way through the story of a bloodthirsty count and the man determined to stop his evil machinations. Proceeds help the UW Cinematheque upgrade its projection booth to screen movies in DCP, the format of most new releases.
Westfield Comics East & West, Thursday, Oct. 31, 11 am
This seven-hour festival of graphical storytelling is so fun it's frightening, and all who visit score free comic books. Those in costumes can get candy and other prizes, so dust off your Superman get-up and fly from one side of our metropolis to the other to score as much loot as possible.
Madison Media Institute, Thursday, Oct. 31, 5:30 pm
A recent Milwaukee Film Festival selection, this Wisconsin-made movie follows a Little League team torn apart by a triple homicide. If you've ever dreamed of becoming a filmmaker, stick around to hear crew member Brendan Jones answer questions on topics like which type of ketchup makes the best fake blood and how to navigate the festival circuit.